Nov. 14, 2016 – West Bend, WI – Coming up Nov. 26 marks the 87th anniversary of the grand opening of the Historic West Bend Theatre.
In an effort to mark holiday traditions past, present and future there is an effort afoot led by local historian Terry Becker to gather below the West Bend marquee for a photo and to show support for the preservation and renovation of this cherished downtown landmark fondly remembered as simply “The Show House.”
The gathering will take place after the 64th Annual Christmas Parade on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Neighbors are invited to please take a few minutes after the parade to gather and share memories, hopes and dreams for the future of downtown.
Without community support the theatre’s future is uncertain and may very well be in jeopardy, so in the spirit of this holiday season please join us and “Let it Show.”
On a history note: Matt Prescott is the current owner of the West Bend Theatre. He purchased the building, 125 N. Main St., May 12, 2012; the asking price was $196,900 and he closed at $100,000.
After the sale Mayor Kraig Sadownikow praised the purchase and defined it with one word: opportunity.
“A city is just a couple buildings and some trucks, a community is what we create when we work together toward a common goal,” he said.
“The recent success and positive future outlook for the downtown area takes all of us to be successful.” Sadownikow compared the community’s downtown to the core of an apple.
“If you let the core rot, the entire apple goes bad. For decades we all have invested time, energy, and money in our downtown to ensure our core is solid.
“We have more work to do, however, these recent examples of success are just the beginning of what will be a stronger downtown,” said Sadownikow.
The theatre has been dark since about 2007 and there has been some recent rumblings about the West Bend Theatre possibly being for sale.
Coming up in December there is a deadline on renovation or removal or the bridge behind the theatre.
On January 18 a story was posted at http://www.washingtoncountyinsider.com about the West Bend Common Council accepting a $75,000 surety from the Business Improvement District to save the pedestrian bridge that extends from the back of the West Bend Theatre over the Milwaukee River.
After meeting with stakeholders, which included the West Bend Cultural Alliance, the organization leading the charge to save the bridge and rehab the theatre, Sadownikow felt the city was safe to move ahead with the project.
Sadownikow did outline seven bullet points for clarification.
- Ownership of the bridge – for the short term the bridge will be owned by the city. The mayor acknowledged future ownership could change
- Maintenance of the bridge – an agreement with the BID is being sought.
- Public bid process vs. a negotiated bid – the project will be designed, built and bid as a public project subject to prevailing wage rates if the project exceeds $100,000
- BID dollars – they are public dollars or tax dollars and have to be spent under public money requirements
- What if BID dissolves – If the bridge has to come down but the BID dissolves itself, who is responsible. The city attorney said the BID can not legally dissolve until all financial obligations are satisfied.
- What the project entails – Project will consist of remodeling of the bridge and the western corridor that leads to Main Street. Also included are lighting, paint and security.
- BID still looking to move forward – Surety has been signed and BID agrees to move forward.
Below is how the meeting minutes read:
On that note, the vote was held and the effort to save the theatre bridge from demolition passed.
For the past year any discussion or movement on either project has not been discussed. During the November BID meeting BID member Tony Jasen asked about the bridge and BID Board President Mike Husar said he would have an update in December.
For the past month local historian Terry Becker has been trying to rally interested parties to step up and invest in saving the theatre and bringing it back to its glory. That rallying cry has hit a lot of people in their feelings but so far there’s been no forward movement.